The sour moodThe latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows something that those of us who observe the political scene in our own home towns across America can already see-the people are in a bloody sour mood about the direction of the country:
Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any
time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in
the early 1990s, according to the latest poll.
In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.
In a normal election year, that would likely equate to victory for the party out of presidential power, presently the Democrats. There is one important reality of the poll that The New York Times tried to downplay in its coverage, however:
A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and
Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college
graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is
headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.
The poll confirms what I can see and hear with my own eyes. With diesel and gasoline prices climbing, drivers and truckers aren't the only folks feeling the pinch, so are farmers. When farmers and those in related agribusiness industries begin to say that things are getting rotten, you can bet that the economy really is in bad shape. If people in rural America aren't feeling the pinch, it can be assumed that any downturn in the economy that is being talked about in the press is a temporary thing-economic problems begin here in the sticks, and if we don't have economic issues, the rest of the country won't have a long-term problem.
I recall a discussion I had with my Grandfather when he was still with us about these issues. One thing I remember clearly was him pointing out that in the rural Southern West Virginia community where he grew up, they were feeling the effects of the Great Depression for several years before the 1929 Stock Market Crash-and he thought the notion that Herbert Hoover was to blame for the Depression was "a bunch of bunk" (a phrase he often used). The problems they had in those days were similar to what we are dealing with today. People borrowed money on good faith and credit, sometimes they made risky moves with the money-buying land, equipment, or supplies they could not pay for. People borrowed too much, invested without knowing what they were doing, and banks charged what in those days was considered excessive interest. The economic hardship caused by these bad decisions hit rural America first and hardest-and so it is today.
While The New York Times says that people blame the government, a lof of people in the heartland of the country are very much aware that the problems with the economy we are now experiencing began back in the mid-90's. While the economic downturn might be good political news for Democrats under normal circumstances, we don't live in the 1920's anymore. We have 24-hour news and communication, and the 82 percent who agree that the country is on the wrong track likely disagree about the means to get it on the right one.
Democrats would be politically wise not to count their chickens before they're hatched.